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Zay Jones ‘excited, grateful’ to be back on the field with Jaguars

The 2023 season has been anything but smooth for Zay Jones. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ veteran wide receiver suffered a knee injury in Week 2, re-injured the same knee in his first game back three weeks later, and was arrested last week just as he was about to make his return.

Jones, 28, was back on the field anyway in Week 11, finishing a blowout win against the Tennessee Titans with four receptions for 20 yards.

“I was excited, grateful to be out there with my team and, obviously, get a great win,” Jones said in the locker room Monday.

In his first comments since he was booked on a domestic battery charge, Jones told reporters he was unable to speak about the details of the case. Instead, Jones talked about the, at times, frustrating path back to the field from an injury that wouldn’t go away.

“Just at this stage in my life, I’m learning how to be present and just enjoying where I’m at,” Jones said. “It’s not easy because as a competitor you want to be out there. But I’ve learned a lot about myself in the time I’ve been hurt on the sideline … but ultimately, I was brought here to help win football games.”

While Jones didn’t make a big impact statistically, Jaguars teammates and coaches said his presence makes a significant difference. It also doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that Calvin Ridley caught two touchdown passes Sunday. In four games with Jones active, Ridley has averaged 89.5 yards. He’s managed 36 yards per game without Jones.

“Zay is one of the leaders in our room,” Ridley said after the 34-14 win Sunday. “It just helps the offense settle down and we have a lot of options to be more ourselves as part of the offensive style.”

Jones mostly shrugged off the notion that he’s the reason Ridley and the Jaguars offense got back on track.

“One man doesn’t make a team, but I know the value that I help bring to the team,” Jones said. “As far as Calvin and Christian and the respect they have for me, that means a lot to me that I can help open the offense up. It was an entire team effort with the defense and special teams, as well.”

Jones was the Jaguars’ second leading receiver last season, recording a career-high 82 receptions for 823 yards. In four games this season, he has 12 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire